2012-13 Catalog

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Offering Description

The Postcolonial Novel


Spring 2013 quarter

Trevor Speller British literature
Fields of Study
cultural studies, literature and writing
Preparatory for studies or careers in
literary studies.

With the break-up of the British empire following the second World War, a new set of states emerged into the world, with particular cultural concerns. Grounded in commonwealth literature, this program will explore the particular aesthetic and political issues that accompany the writing of the novel. We will read novels ranging from the mid-nineteenth century to the late twentieth century, written by novelists from Ireland to India. We will consider the novel as an art form that establishes a genre, and one that breaks genre boundaries.

Our considerations will include what makes a novel "British," "colonial," or "postcolonial." How did this art form come to be? What is the relationship between politics and literature? How do writers express nationalist sentiment in fiction? What influence does Britain exercise on the literature of her former colonies? Are there differences in aesthetics that come with political emancipation? Do these novels constitute a national--or international--art form? This intersection of colonialism, nationalism and the novel will be an important focus of our attention, as well as conflicting contemporary views around the rise of the novel.

The reading list will tackle texts such as The Moonstone , Heart of Darkness , Kim, A Passage to India, Burmese Days, Things Fall Apart, A Bend in the River, Midnight's Children or Troubles . We will read excerpts from other works of fiction, critical views on the postcolonial novel, and contemporary literary theory. By the end of the program, students will have a firm foundation in postcolonial literature, exposure to significant strands of literary theory, and experience with upper-division literary research.

Students will be asked to read all texts, prepare a presentation, to lead class discussions, and produce a critical paper (15+ pp.), in addition to regular shorter assignments. Film versions of the texts may be shown. Students are strongly encouraged to have previous studies in literature and/or the humanities, and to have previously written a paper of significant length (10+ pp.) on a literary or historical topic. Lower-division students may be admitted pending an assessment of written work. The best work in this program will be useful for graduate school applications.

Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
Required Fees
$50 for admission to film, museum, or other cultural venue.
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
May 21st, 2012 Trevor Speller will be teaching in Illustrations of Character.